Cranfield University, Kingston University
Astronautics MSc, Aerospace Engineering BEng, Engineering Foundation Year
Spacecraft Operations Systems Engineer
Spacecraft Operations Engineer
I’m a Spacecraft Operations Engineer, and I take care of four satellites that perform Earth Observation. This means they regularly photograph the earth for a whole range of applications; this can be from photographing disasters (like earthquakes and tsunamis), to looking at farmland, or observing the effects of climate change.
Three of the satellites have been in orbit since 2015, and it’s my job to maintain them and ensure they stay in good health for at least another five years. The fourth satellite SSTL S1-4 we launched last September, and since then I have been commissioning the satellite. This has involved gradually turning on and testing the on-board systems to taking our first photos back in November. We’re due to start service with this satellite in mid-March.
My Typical Day: There's no typical day in Ops!
Usually I would start by looking to see how the main three satellites had been overnight, as we have a Chinese customer we would expect to get e-mails from them in the early hours of the morning. Usually after that I have catch-ups with my line manager about our plans going forwards, I prepare future activities, and go through old investigations of faults to make sure there’s nothing we’ve missed in the past.
Most days aren’t typical though. Sometimes we’ll get an overnight notification of a fault on-board that would take a day to investigate and then fix, we can get send collision avoidance notices when one of our satellites will pass near debris or another satellite, or our ground dishes could be giving us problems communicating with our satellites.
At the moment with commissioning of SSTL S1-4, most of my days are spend at the moment finishing off the testing and preparing all the documents to hand over to our final customer.
What I'd do with the money
A series of youtube videos on the basics of spaceflight and astronomy
I want to use the money to get together the last of the equipment I need to film; lens, microphone, lights. So that I can make a series of videos on the basics of spaceflight and astronomy. I want to mix it in with practical elements for the easily demonstrable concepts as well as using games like Kerbal Space Program to explain some of the bigger concepts.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Incredibly nerdy guy
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Watching my satellite launch and then sending the first signal to turn it on from orbit
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I remember watching the shuttle launches and being inspired to wanting to work in space, then Kerbal Space Program for teaching me the basics of spaceflight
What was your favourite subject at school?
Maths, when I understood it
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
Slow cooked BBQ
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Flying a stunt plane and doing aerobatics